The 32nd NAIS People of Color Conference (POCC) was held in Seattle alongside the 26th Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). Dr. Michelle Arnold, BGA’s Director of Equity and Inclusion, and Monica Frazier, Lower School Spanish Teacher, attended the POCC while Kendall Grimes '22, Milani Naik '21, Ashlyn Patton ‘23, and Mila Perez '21 attended the SDLC. Michelle Arnold and Monica Frazier shared the following observations from the conference.
Dr. Michelle Arnold, Director of Equity and Inclusion
first-year conference attendee
The conference was a life-changing experience. The energy was electric, and the participants and presenters showed so much enthusiasm, dedication, and passion. I could go on about the emotions I felt during this enriching experience, but in summary, I left feeling inspired and ready to help BGA set new goals and take on new challenges that many school communities are facing.
The closing keynote speaker, Pedro Noguera, a sociologist from California, sums up the conference by stating, "Equity is giving students the opportunities they need to be successful. A commitment to equity requires us to create conditions in schools that promote positive academic and developmental outcomes." The work we do in the areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is pertinent in our schools, and I am happy to be a part of it. The conference allowed me to participate within the world's largest mentorship meeting as it provided an unexpected, intimate forum where top leaders shared experiences, both personal and professional, with multiple teachings that related to my experiences. I'm grateful to BGA to have given me the opportunity to attend this Conference, and I look forward to next year.
My role at BGA is a marathon, not a sprint; it’s going to take time. My top priority is building relationships with students, faculty, staff, and parents. Fostering these relationships is imperative to the community trust in that I have the best interests of BGA and is the key to setting the groundwork for equity and inclusion.
Monica Frazier, Lower School Spanish Teacher
first-year conference attendee
One of the speakers, Valarie Kaur, was incredibly inspiring to me. She showed a lot of compassion, grit, and perseverance. Something that she said really spoke to me: "Our job as educators is to give our students wisdom for tomorrow’s justice." This quote makes me think of our Core Values, especially Character and specifically this bullet point from that value - "We are an inclusive and welcoming community that cares for the well-being of others." I believe that through our core values, we can prepare our students for the outside world and help them to be good people who will stand up for what is right and just in this world.
I was also intrigued by how schools use Student Affinity Groups, which have a faculty mentor who also belongs to that particular group themselves. I attended several sessions about incorporating these groups into the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. Our students had similar reactions to mine. For me, attending the LatinX Affinity Group sessions was where I felt the most included, and where I felt that my voice was heard. As a person of color who teaches in an independent school, I often feel like my perspective is overlooked. Through my Affinity Group experience, I found many people who were in similar situations and could understand exactly where I was coming from. It was refreshing to find that camaraderie within the conference population as a whole.